Alan Robinson MLA followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming an MLA in the constituency of East Londonderry in 2022. The DUP man tells agendaNi about his political heroes, how he misses being a local councillor, and his passion for underground dance music.
Outline your background/career to date
I was born in Limavady and schooled at Limavady Central Primary, Limavady High School, and Limavady College.
Having a love of art at school, it was inevitable that I would take up a career in an art and design department in a local printing firm. Unfortunately, that 10-year career was cut short having been injured in a road traffic collision in Cyprus.
Following my recovery, I took up a series of posts in retail before becoming a civil servant at the Department of Agriculture. When a position became available at Gregory Campbell MP’s office in Limavady town centre, this was the catapult into the world of frontline politics.
The work within the office gave me a taster of public life. I was encouraged to stand for and was subsequently elected to Limavady Borough Council in 2005, serving there and into the merger with the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council up until 2022, when I became an MLA. It is no secret that I thoroughly enjoyed council and I dearly miss what was the most enjoyable and most rewarding role of my working life.
What inspired you to get into politics?
My father, George, served as a councillor, alderman, mayor, and an MLA for over 37 years; therefore the inspiration to be a champion for local people was borne from him. My father was very much a working-class grassroots politician. He never courted the big headlines; just flew under the radar but always was front and centre of the bread and butter issues that were a concern to the local people he served. He typified a decent, honest, hard-working, and likeable public representative who held the respect of both communities right across the Roe Valley and beyond.
Who do you admire in politics or public life?
I admire Jim Shannon, MP for Strangford. Jim is in the same mould as my father. Their loyalty to the people they serve is unrivalled and they are unafraid to express their emotions in a very public way.
What drew you to the Democratic Unionist Party?
My family were drawn to the democratic unionist family having been intimidated from our home in the very early 1980s during the height of ‘the Troubles’. The DUP was the only political party who we contacted which did anything practical to help. The party representatives at that time assisted with temporary accommodation and a subsequent permanent home, in which my parents still live to this day. Both of my parents joined the DUP in the weeks after receiving tremendous help and support and remain active members 43 years later. I joined the party 25 years ago as the DUP was the only local party which was championing the many causes of the local community.
It is no secret that I thoroughly enjoyed council and I dearly miss what was the most enjoyable and most rewarding role of my working life. Alan Robinson MLA
What are the key issues facing your constituency?
My constituency is no different to others where there are huge housing, healthcare, and education crises amongst many others. There is nothing more rewarding in public life than successfully assisting a family with an affordable home. The ability to do so has become ever more difficult due to the lack of new social housing.
What are your interests outside of work?
I have varied interests beyond public life but I suppose the challenge is getting the time to pursue them fully. I am a lifelong fan of Irish league football, particularly the NIFL Premiership where I hold a season ticket for Coleraine FC.
This may not fit with the stereotypical mindset of a DUP public representative, but I am a huge fan of underground dance music, specifically melodic house music. I was once a dance music DJ in various night clubs and the love of that genre is as strong now in my 50s as it was in my early 20s. My home is filled with music every morning. I am also a Northern Ireland football fan, which has seen me travel to various countries throughout Europe as part of the ‘green and white army’.
I like the simple things in life and therefore my greatest pleasure and love is spending quality time with my nine-year-old daughter, Sienna and my devoted wife, Tracy. When the seas are rocky, it is they who always bring the calm.